Parental responsibility
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Parental responsibility

Disclaimer: please note the below information is a number of years old and does not necessarily represent the current landscape. We're working to update the information, and to ensure it's fully bi and trans inclusive.

What is parental responsibility?

In England and Wales parental responsibility is defined in law as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to the child and their property”.

Having parental responsibility for a child means you can take decisions about matters such as their education, their religion, where they should live, whether they can leave the country and their medical treatment.

Who has parental responsibility?

A child can only have two legal parents but there is no limit to the number of people who can share parental responsibility.

Legal parents

  • A child's birth mother will automatically have parental responsibility
  • A child's legal parent, who is named on their birth certificate or adoption certificate, will have parental responsibility

Non-birth mothers and co-parents

  • Non-birth mothers, who are not considered legal parents but who are married or in a civil partnership with the birth mother, can acquire parental responsibility by signing an agreement with the birth mother

In all other circumstances parental responsibility can be acquired by applying, through a family court, for a child arrangement order.

For further information contact Stonewall's Information Service.